11 Reasons To Use A Local Currency

The Brixton Pound was the UK’s first local currency in an urban area, following in the footsteps of Totnes, Stroud and Lewes. Bristol now runs the biggest local currency in Europe. In fact, there are thousands of local currency schemes around the world. So why use one?

1. They keep money local

Think of the local economy as a leaky bucket. Money pours in, but there are large, corporate chain-shaped holes through which this money immediately leaks out. A local currency reinforces shopping at independent businesses, which are more likely to source local supplies, use nearby services, and employ local people.

2. They connect citizens to the local business community

Local money puts power back into the hands of locals who can now have a say in where their money goes. Local currency has been described as ‘happy money’, as spending it connects us to our area. It reinforces our support for local businesses, which we know bring vitality and diversity to our high streets and markets, and using it makes a statement that you want it re-spent locally.

3. They look so cool

Even the most staunch royalist has to admit that Lizzie II loses out in the cool stakes to the likes of David Bowie (B£20), and Luol Deng (B£5). The decision over who to place on the notes was voted on by Brixton residents, which were then designed by local artists. They look great in cash registers, and on your wall at home too - buy our collector packs here.

4. You can pay-by-text

Pay-by-text was first piloted in the UK by the Brixton Pound in 2011, but has actually been used as a method of payment in Africa for even longer. Running on sms, it’s not just for smartphone users. It is secure and sure beats queuing up when you already know how much you have to pay. Sounds good doesn’t it? Now go and sign up here.

5. They can get you out of tight spots

Picture the scene - you’re at a bar and you’ve forgotten your wallet. Your drink has already been poured, and hell you’ve had a hard day, you need one. Just before extensive panic sets in, you remember that your account with your local currency is topped up and you can use your phone to pay!

6. Splitting a bill has never been easier

You know what it’s like when you’re part of a group and you want to split the bill. Scrambling for the correct change, taking an IOU, or having to wait to use the card machine. With pay-by-text you can all just send over what you owe and be out of the door in no time!

7. Pay-by-text is great for small businesses

Did you know that every time you pay by a credit or debit card, the business has to pay a transaction fee? That’s not to mention additional costs such as renting the card machine and receiving a monthly statement. The Brixton Pound charges a flat rate of 1.5% per transaction, and the technology is free - provided that you have an sms-enabled mobile phone. For small businesses this means they can access modern payment methods without the costs associated. And if you trade on the move, such as from a market stall, it’s ideal!

8. Local charities benefit

The Brixton Pound pioneered a scheme where local council staff opt in to be part-paid in the local currency, which can then be sent directly to local charities as a donation. They can then use this to purchase goods or pay expenses for volunteers. Charities often have difficulty accepting cash donations, so pay-by-text offers a useful alternative.

9. They put you on first name terms with your favourite shops

It’s nice to think that getting on first name terms with your favourite shops is a piece of cake. But it doesn’t always happen, and once you’ve been going to a place for a year and you still don’t know each other’s name, well that’s just awkward and it ain’t gonna change. A lifeline for you - when you use pay-by-text, the trader receives a confirmation text including the name of the payee. So don’t be surprised when they thank you personally for your purchase, and remember your name next time you’re in the shop.

10. Your money is used for ethical purposes

When you exchange your everyday currency for local money, it goes into a credit union. Credit unions, unlike banks, are more likely to lend to small businesses, do not invest in unethical ventures such as arms or oil, and also provide vulnerable individuals with an affordable alternative to payday lenders.

11. You’re taking part in the future of money…today

Bitcoins shooting up in value…Russel Brand leading a revolution…there’s something in the air, don’t you think? The economic model that has so clearly failed only threatens to create more inequality and damage our planet even more. A local currency is a genuine starting point to move away from that model towards something more sustainable, more democratic, and fairer. We’re optimistic that the local currencies of today and the many initiatives based on a sharing economy will be much replicated as other areas look to take greater charge of their economic destinies. So if you happen to have a local currency in your area, welcome to the future of money!

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